“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
It is stunning! It is magnificent! Wow! I make an attempt to stand straight with one brown snowboot on one leg and one on my right hand. In my mind plays the opera song of Luciano Pavarotti; in long visceral high c in very fast note.There is a long pause, a breathless pause then I tip my head towards my daughter, eyes dancing and collapse in a wail of laughter like the chimes of a doorbell. We look at each other then glance back towards the beauty.O Wow! we say at the sametime and smile delightedly. This must be the perfect place where thrives the happiness.Somehow the world feel very perfect and the Saturday of the week as the best day.The day seems to bring the promise of excessive joy.
Outside the air is crisp,cool and the scent of wet birches and pines. The presence of fresh,thick white snow makes a statement.We park our car on the road side parking at the Deer Ridge Junction in the Rocky Mountain National park with a few others. The majestic snow covered mountain rises over 12,000 feet of red rock that seems to rip from the earth to the grasslands of the eastern plains of Colorado.
“This mountain, the arched back of the earth risen before us, it made me feel humble, like a beggar, just lucky to be here at all, even briefly.” Bridget Asher
The first three miles hike on the trail is steady climb up the western slopes while travelling over a series of switchbacks along the way. The peaceful strands of evergreen and aspen trees everywhere on the mountain. It is a real challenge to hike in the deep packed snow ; fatiguing even with the crampons and hiking poles but extremely fun. As the trail get steeper and icy, I stop a few times to take deep breath; coming from a place lower than the sea level is a big challenge.My determination to achieve my goal always prevails. Bears are in hibernation but you never know, so we just carry the water bottles no snacks. I take a few gulp of water and glance around. Something as big as a small dog jumps from a small bush and hides back behind the pine tree and hops back again. I slide the water bottle into the grey backpack and lean forward. Really! So big! I have never seen that size. It turns out to be a white Snowshoe hare.I have to leave my wish to cuddle the hare move forward. After a few stiff climb we stop to rest. From the corner of my eyes I see a rows of big foot prints to my right side on the snow. I push my bangs behind the ear, softly drop the blue tracking poles and bend over for a closer look.
“What is it mom?” My daughter walks closer and glances at the paw prints. “Hold on mom,let me see if we have the internet connection.” She looks at her phone. She raises her large astonished eyes and darts forward to recheck the paw prints. Her intelligent eyes get extremely bright. A pleasant surprise plays on her face, then she smiles and says, “ Mom, these are the foot marks of mountain lion.’’ “ Really!” I say and stand straight to investigate the surrounding. It is a little scary. I look for my husband but he is nowhere to be seen. He always vanishes in the hiking trail; he enjoys the speed hikes and forgets to go in a pack.So instead of taking any break we start hiking on the steep trail.
The both sides of trail cover with mature Ponderosa pine trees and wind upward past Lodgepole pines, aspen and Limber pine. “ Mom, look.” I hear my daughter’s vibrating voice. I turn my head back to see a two beautiful blue birds, Iridescent one on the tree branch of a pine tree and the other one squats on the snow and try to peck on something. We try to capture the picture in our camera. After one hour we reach at the overlook. The beautiful view of the snow covered Long peak and Hallett peak are clear from the top. Everything stirs gently in the soft breath of cold air; the trees, the bushes and a parade of perception- one or two excited grey birds skipping from tree to tree, a few hungry chickarees looking for food on the snow. As we approach the treeline I start getting headaches but there are no big rocks to sit or strong trees to lean, so the only option is to continue the hike. We reach at 11,400 feet on the mountain, the treeline stops there.
We stand speechless. The panoramic 360 degree view from the top is stunning and gorgeous; the snow covered Flat top, the Estes park, the valley below and the frozen Bear lake,Emerald and Dream lakes.Evening shadows fall; the horizontal sun dances softly on the white snow.I am overwhelmed with the beauty,start to laugh and cry at the same time. A divine and sublime feeling take over. There on the summit with the spectacular beauty all around us we stand together in trance.
“You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows downstream and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men”. Li Bai
It is almost three thirty. The strong cold wind starts to pick up.We decide to hike down before it gets real dark and icy. I decide to come back from Texas and spend more time in hiking in the beautiful, magnificent Rocky Mountain.